Places that Matter

Convent Avenue between 140th & 150th Streets

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Charles Miles
Charles Miles
Charles Miles
Charles Miles
Charles Miles
Charles Miles
Street with architectural, historic and cultural significance
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Place Matters Profile

A walk down Convent Avenue in Harlem is a walk down one of the most beautiful streets in Manhattan. The street is notable for its tranquility and harmonious design. While the street immediately pleases the eye, a close study of the buildings along the street reveals high levels of historical significance. The charm of the street is felt in its strong dual identities as a walkable index of many different layers of New York City history and as a vital, active street in a vibrant neighborhood.

Convent Avenue lies mostly in Hamilton Heights on the west side of Harlem, between busier Amsterdam Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue. The street runs from 127th Street in central Harlem north to 152nd Street where it dives into St. Nicholas. The most famous stretch of the street lies from the northern edge of the Collegiate Gothic campus of the City College of New York at 140th Street up to the end of the street in the 150s. Convent Avenue received its evocative name from the Convent of the Sacred Heart property that opened south of 136th Street during the mid 19th century.

The most famous house on Convent Avenue has actually moved off the street. Hamilton Grange was previously located at 141st Street and Convent Avenue and made national news in June of 2008 when the National Park Service lifted the entire house onto a platform and trucked it to nearby St. Nicholas Park. Hamilton Grange has enjoyed a prominent place in New York City history since its construction in 1802. Alexander Hamilton—first Secretary of the Treasury, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and founder of the Bank of New York—discovered the area that would be eventually be named Hamilton Heights in his honor while on a hunting trip. He loved the area so much that he decided to build his country villa on 33 acres of land there. Architect John McComb Jr. designed the house in a Federal style and took current technology and efficiency into consideration while also advancing the idea that American residential architecture could be simultaneously dignified and modest.